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»Mazes of Fate
  "THIS GAME SUCKS...just kidding."

Graphics: 6

Gameplay: 9

Sound: 8

Value: 9
Anyone who appreciates Eye of the Beholder should take notice to what this game has to offer. Mazes of Fate is described by Sabarasa as a “first person dungeon crawling role-playing game”, and the first attempt by this developer at making a video game. Totally fell under my games radar – I first heard of it from Portable Review’s webmaster Bloodspoor, who had a lot of good to say about the title. I learned even more about this game while looking it up on NeoGAF, and it looked AND sounded great. One thing I gotta say is that it doesn’t quite meet my expectations – it completely surpasses them and keeps going into the distance. This game is exactly what we need more of in our handhelds.

As the writing and translation aren’t top notch, the plot takes backseat to the gameplay despite its genre. However, it still maintains a moderately interesting plot. It follows a Warrior, a Rogue, or a Mage who lives in an ancient, medieval time filled with conflicts, most notably a fierce hatred held by the Humans and Goatmen towards each other. In the middle of the conflict is King Harlac, the good king of the land. However, after a little adventuring, the hero(ine) discovers that King Harlac may be more than he seems, and may be working against Human kind.

In the game’s first person perspective, the player can see everything to his or her left, right, and everything in front of them. Movement is unlike many typical adventure or role-playing games: while in a Final Fantasy title, up/left/right/down makes the character go up/left/right/down, Mazes of Fate controls entirely different. Pushing left or right will not cause the character to move left or right – rather, he or she will rotate. Up and down moves the character up and down, but this does not change their facing like in traditional adventure and RPG games. On top of that, the shoulder buttons allow for the player to sidestep, which means that he or she does not have to rotate the character to see where they’re heading. A and B buttons are used as well – A is used to attack, cast a magic spell, or use an offensive item against an enemy if one is immediately in front of them, while B allows the player to pick up/drop items and use switches. These controls work great, but holy crap let me tell you, it is so disorienting switching to a different game right after playing this. When I put in Pokémon Pearl, I kept pushing right to rotate my character.

The designs of the levels are simple. As implied by the title, Mazes of Fate is a bunch of mazes. The areas look very similar, often with brick-designed walls. Littered throughout these mazes are items, enemies, doorways, switches, stairs, teleporters, entrances, exits, and occasionally ally characters. Stairs, teleporters, and entrances/exits are only used to exit the dungeon or go to a different area of said dungeon, while switches are used often to gain access to these areas by opening doors or activating teleporters. Throughout the dungeons, the player will encounter a variety of puzzles, although not all of them are quite deep – most being “place an item on this floor switch” or “put these rocks in the right order”. However, there were some intense puzzles in this one dungeon – really brain teasing.

But of course, no RPG would be complete without enemies to battle. There are a variety of enemies to battle – which is surprising, considering this is the developer’s first attempt (well, the whole game is surprising because of that). While in the beginning the player’s accuracy is absolutely dreadful, it improves to only a slight annoyance. The player must juggle a variety of actions while battling some of the tougher baddies – healing, magic, fighting, and sometimes running away is the only viable strategy remaining. But I’ve got to say – it’s really scary when a big ass stone guardian monster is nowhere to be found, and you turn the corner and he’s charging RIGHT at you and he can kill you in two or three hits if you’re lucky. Scares the crap out of me.

Items are quintessential to beating the game; I can’t imagine anyone but a true Mazes of Fate master beating this game without any healing items or equipped items (and even with the camp system which gives free healing, it would entail the player to run away all the time to use it in order to avoid getting sucker punched). There are several kinds of items, and two categories – “Use items” and “Equip items”. Use items consist of healing potions (HP, MP, etc.), attack items (thunder gems, poison items, etc.), many of which are of random quality – for instance, a low leveled potion may heal five to ten HP, meaning that it could heal a character as low as five HP and as high as ten HP. Equip items, like Use items, are standard to RPGs. The player may equip a weapon, shield, armor, up to two rings, a necklace, boots, and a helmet. There are only three ways to get items – first is buying from a shop, the second is to find in a dungeon, and the third is to get an item for completing a quest. The equipment system works pretty well and has no identifiable flaws, same with the item system.
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Posted on: Jun. 22nd, 2007

     Review Recap
Astounding. It's really amazing how this newbie developer managed to make one of my favorite games for the GBA (and the best GBA game of 2006). Feels like a throwback to classic dungeon crawlers such as the excellent Eye of the Beholder, and the levels are just huge. Only single flaw is that it's kind of glitchy. Great attempt Sabarasa, but make sure to do better with the sequel!

Not on the same level as many later GBA games, but it's acceptable. The visuals make me feel nostalgic towards old games in the genre, and the enemy designs are cool (at least, in the later levels). Wish it was less glitchy and had more animation, though.

Has a pretty cool soundtrack (with a few duds – shop keeper song, anyone?) and has some neat sound effects. And another thing I loved about this game is that it had really creepy noises that totally freaked me out in the beginning, like hearing someone’s evil laugh or someone scream – and then turn around and see a giant stone guardian charging towards the player with the intention of beating the life out of you.

 Replay Value
The game is very, very long (not longer than other really long games though). It doesn’t have any real post-game and customization isn’t really a factor, but there’s tons of quests and secrets in every dungeon.


Platform: Gameboy Advance
Genre: RPG
Developer: Sabarasa Entertainment
Publisher: O3 Entertainment
Release Date: 12/06/2006
Save Type: 1 Slot
Players: 1